Route 2, Griswold, Iowa
Case No. 33992, according to records, was manufactured in 1917 and shipped to Des Moines, Iowa, where it languished in a warehouse until just before threshing season in 1918. A group of 12 farmers in the Atlantic, Iowa, area formed a threshing company and ordered a 50 hp. steam engine, water wagon, and a 36 inch separator. The order called for just a plainly equipped engine - no contractors, bunkers, or canopy. However, they did specify a jacket on the boiler. The Case Company shipped the rig as ordered, except no jacket on the engine. This could be put on later.
The outfit arrived in Atlantic by rail and was promptly unloaded, driven the 6 or 8 miles to its new home community, and put immediately to work. No time to waste while Case men were holding things up installing a jacket. When its first season was over, the 12 farmers decided the engine was economical enough so they cancelled the jacket and saved the $50.00. Cost of outfit was $2200.00 for separator, $1800.00 for the engine, and around $250.00 for the water wagon.
This Case outfit threshed for many years around the countryside - until the younger generation took over in favor of combines in 1948. This was the first year this steam rig set idle.
I was born in 1918, the same year this engine began service, so I began life too late to ever be an old time steam engineer, but was always quite fond of the old steam engines that were still being used during my growing-up years. Even at that early age, I wanted to buy one to play with. They were sitting all over the country in groves where I hunted them out, just to look at. They could be bought for $40.00 or $50.00, but during the depression years where would a poor farm boy get that much money, especially for such a foolish thing as a dirty, rusty, old steam engine.
Of course, as I grew up, my eye became attracted to the fairer sex, then World War II years where another burning desire was to be satisfied - flying. When the war was over, like many other war pilots, I was ready to hang up the helmet and goggles. But that was a phase of my life that would fill quite a book.
I came back to the farm and settled down to raising a family. I had worked long and hard to get ahead. In 1952, I began to hear about steam engine collectors, reunions, etc. When an old neighbor bought an engine, I decided I would squander a few bucks (with my wife's O.K.), so the search was on for an engine. After several weeks of blind alleys and bum leads, I found this engine in its shed, along with the separator and water wagon. The few owners that were left decided they would never thresh again, so agreed to sell. So, I was in business.
Since then, I have installed contractors, bunkers and canopy. Of course, like any venture, the old engine opened new doors to a host of friends. I met Raleigh Woltmann of Avoca, Iowa, who has a 50 Case engine and we discovered that his engine Serial No. is 33991. We have always thought this quite unusual and have wanted to get them together for a picture. After 18 years, we finally realized this ambition this year at the Eshelman Antique Show. The two engines have now met, so to speak, for the first time since leaving the factory 53 years ago. Actually, my guess is that on a crisp fall morning they could have heard each others' whistles, Avoca being only about 15 miles west of Atlantic.